Gerry Sutcliffe concerned over Adebayor

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The Independent Football

Sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe has warned top footballers that they need to act as role models and said there should be a debate about whether to impose points deductions for clubs whose players are guilty of serious misbehaviour.

Sutcliffe said the incidents involving Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor last weekend against Arsenal had highlighted the need for the stars of the game to set an example for children.

The minister added the deterrent of a ban may not be enough and tougher measures were needed.

Sutcliffe told Press Association Sport: "I am concerned, because these players are role models.

"What we can't have is violence or apparent violence that kids in the streets may copy.

"There needs to be other mechanisms to force players and clubs to recognise that.

"We all know it's a tough, emotional game but we can't continue to have these sorts of scenes. We will be looking at what suggestions there could be.

"Do we need to look at clubs losing points [for serious misbehaviour]? If a player gets banned for three games, it's easy to put someone else in there if you are a big club, though for small clubs it's more difficult.

"It's just a personal idea but football should be looking at all it can do to make sure that the image of the game."

Sutcliffe stressed the Government would not tell football how to run the sport, but acted as a "critical friend" and make suggestions.

"I can't propose that [points deductions], but it's something that should be looked to make sure that clubs and players act in a responsible way," added Sutcliffe, who was opening a £1million multi-sports centre in Silsden, West Yorkshire, built with support from the Football Foundation and Sport England.

"That's not to take the emotion out of sport. But when you come to places like here to see grassroots sports, what you don't want to see is kids diving about on the pitch or coming out with bad behaviour.

"The FA's Respect campaign last year was the way forward and we need to return to the principles of that campaign and reinforce it."

The minister also said he believed the FA had acted correctly with the ban on Adebayor for stamping on Robin van Persie - he has also been charged with improper conduct for his inflammatory goal celebration.

"He has a three-match ban for that and I think that's the right decision, and the FA are dealing with the other matter," said Sutcliffe.

"Now we have got sport to such a high level I don't want it go backwards to where we focus on bad behaviour and bad images coming across."

Sutcliffe said the controversies involving the Formula One Renault team and tennis star Serena Williams, who abused a line judge, were also cause for concern.

"Whether it has been Serena Williams in tennis or the Formula One issues, the integrity of sport is key," said the minister.

"There is a dangerous situation if sport loses control of itself and has kids doing the same thing, whatever the sport.

"There's a responsibility on sports to say how best can we improve the situation in relation to discipline and conduct."